i set off early in the morning just before dawn. The mist of Avalon had
descended, casting a thick blanket over the familiar Somerset
countryside . Locked inside the protective shell of a National Express coach, my heart threatening to skip a beat, all thoughts were of
Istanbul and the huge car bombs that had detonated the previous day.
"Ah but I'm heading for Cappadocia hundreds of miles to the East" I sought to reassure myself.
Cappadocia with its Martian landscapes and hidden underground cities. What better place to ride out the approaching Apocalypse?
Picking heartly at my prefabricated plastic Airline Meal, dextoursly manipulating untensils of an origin only discovered on charter flights, I glanced around me at the half empty plane, the seats shorn and abandoned by the usual complement of screaming kids, irate parents, post pubesant lads and random alcholics. I filled my sickbag with chips and munched away distractidly as mainland Europe passed somewhere, 30,000ft below.
My thoughts were of the previous day. It started normaly enough, popping around to my parents house to say goodbye before departing on a 6 week adventure in central Turkey.
My father greeted me at the front door his face ashen his brow furrowed with fear and worry.
"Its not looking to good where your heading" his voice cracked with emotion.
I followed him into the living room where the television tuned to CNN
Two trucks carrying massive bombs have slammed into the Bet Isreal and Neve Shalom synagouges in Istanbul and exploded. The explosions devastated the synagogues, the T.V is ablaze with the carnage, the surround sound Home Cinema system is a buzz with wailing sirens and screaming people.
My Mother joined us in the living room her eyes betraying concern.
I pulled my self together "I'm still going"
They both winced, i tried to reassure them,
"I'll be fine, where i'm heading is nowhere near Istanbul" My attempts at optamisim were sadly undermined by the ability of technology to beam the suffering of complete strangers, into the intamcy of the family living room.
Walking to the front door i hugged them both goodbye, as i locked eyes with my parents it was if our entire relationship existed in that second, from the first time they saw me after my birth, yellow and jaundiced in an incubator out of reach for days, to my first smile, my first steps, school, the ups the downs, the laughter the tears.
I could feel their fear that I might end up chained to a radiator apologising for Tony Blair and George Bush's genocidal War in Iraq. That this person who they had invested so much of their lives trying to keep safe was about to depart to a dangerous and far off land and there was nothing they could do about it. Could this be the last time they ever saw me, their anguish was tangible and threatened to overpower me, undermining my resolve, urging me to call it off and not go, but then the sense of destiny returned, this was part of growing up, changing, moving to the beat of my own drum, and for the first time really considering my own mortality.
I hugged them both tightly, my father gave me a firm pat on the back, a paternal seal of approval, I felt like Bilbo Baggins about to leave the Shire on some dumb and foolhardy idealistic crusade. As i pulled away from the curb, glancing in the rear view mirror one last time I felt as though, once agian i was stepping into the unknown.